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Advancements In Dental Technology

The world is in no shortage of amazing dental innovations. Gone are the days where dentistry was torture. And of the literal kind—think of manually scraping tooth decay with a stone tool or undergoing operations without anesthesia. And while dental fear and anxiety are still very real, dentistry’s done an excellent job making the dental experience less traumatic than it used to be. Most of the time, however, we tend to overlook these amazing dental solutions that have brought us to where we are now.

In a way, some of the items on our list aren’t as mind-blowing as you’d expect them to be. For the most part, these “amazing dental feats” are in fact things we use on the daily, or things we’re acquainted with when we go to the dental office. But imagine for a minute what it’d be like without these things. Dental hygiene and care would be quite the nightmare—not to mention non-existent. 

That said, what are the amazing dental solutions that have changed dental care as we know it? The recognition goes to the following:

Anesthesia: If you’re naturally anxious about going to the dentist or any medical profession, chances are you’ve had to undergo some heavy anesthesia. And because of that, chances are you don’t remember getting the operation done in the first place after. Indeed, anesthesia has probably saved a lot of people’s lives and sanity, whether on the dentist’s chair or the operating table. So when you can, be sure to thank your anesthesiologist—chances are they’ve not only kept you calm but also alive as well.

Caries Detection Solution: This refers to a liquid red dye that dentists smear over a tooth. This dye can verify that tooth decay is completely gone post-treatment. Indeed, this is identical to plaque disclosing tablets. These tablets help show spots that were missed or not thoroughly cleaned after brushing.

Desensitizers: Desensitizers can be utilized by the dental hygienist or dentist before the dental treatment is performed if the patient has sensitive teeth. These offer comfort all throughout the procedure. Dentists may use these alone or together with other anxiety and pain relievers including sedation dentistry or a local anesthetic.

Digital X-rays: Digital X-rays provide a way to capture dental images via a sensor. This sensor transforms the image onto a computer screen. This latest dental technology can now provide more comfort than conventional X-rays. They can also eliminate over-exposure to radiation. Furthermore, 4 digital radiographs are approximately equal to 1 paper X-ray.

Electric Handpieces: These dental tools aid in dental hygiene procedures. Dentists may use them alongside rotary cutting instruments. Likewise, they provide gentle delivery, and as a result, ensure less stress is put on the healthy tooth framework. These are quieter as well.

Intra-Oral Cameras: These can help produce precise images of the teeth and the supporting framework. They let your dentist, your dental technician, and even you see tooth defects. These can help you know more about the significance of good oral hygiene practices, such as where to concentrate when brushing your teeth.

Laser therapy
Unless you’re a special kind of person, chances are surgery isn’t your favorite thing to get. The traditional cut-and-sew method when it comes to dental operations isn’t exactly the best thing in the world, especially with the soreness and bleeding that comes after. Fortunately, the use of lasers in periodontal surgery is an amazing dental solution that’s slowly gaining popularity. And for a good reason, too—aside from being less bloody than its conventional counterpart, it also has the added bonus of helping your wounds heal faster. 

Lasers can also improve the appearance of our pearly whites. In about an hour-long procedure at the dentist office, you can have laser teeth whitening done. A bleach-containing gel is applied to the teeth and is activated by a laser, making the teeth brighter and whiter than ever before.

Optical Scanners: These can provide a clear digital map of the tooth. In the same way, it is capable of making a 3D replica model of the dental framework. They help provide precise color analysis for cosmetic restorations created in a dental lab like bridges, crowns, and veneers.

Wand: This pertains to a digital dental tool which helps administer anesthesia in a methodic and gradual approach. The sensation of pain typically from an injection is due to an outcome of the injection of the liquid’s pressure.

Moreover, the gradual and gentle delivery linked with using the wand commonly makes injections a lot more comfortable and pain-free. This tool’s delivery holder is tiny and is quite easy to use.

Nowadays, more and more dental technologies become available for dental professionals to select. The perks that you can obtain by visiting the dentist now can offer you more ease and comfort than ever before.

Computer-assisted relaxation learning, or CARL, is a dental assistant of sorts that helps alleviate signs of dental fear and anxiety

Computers Helping Combat Dental Fear

Another recent advance is CARL, or computer-assisted relaxation learning. CARL helps patients deal with injection-based dental fear and anxiety (DFA). For this, the dental assistant makes use of systematic desensitization—a type of therapy where you’re exposed bit by bit to the things you fear until you don’t fear them anymore. 

But how does CARL use systemic desensitization? 

Computer-assisted relaxation learning helps patients heal themselves

What you first need to know about CARL is that it is self-paced. This is crucial for several reasons. Because the dental assistant uses systematic desensitization, you need to make sure that the pace of exposure doesn’t overwhelm the patient. The method is already traumatic in itself. Because it’s mostly used to treat phobias, patients have to face what triggers them gradually. And it’s not exactly the most pleasant experience to confront the thing you fear the most. By putting the treatment at a pace that’s comfortable for the patient, it makes it a little less unpleasant to go through. 

Placing the pace of treatment in the patient’s hands also helps give them a sense of control over the situation. When you’ve gone through a harrowing experience, it can throw you off in a way that makes you feel hopeless. Regaining that sense of agency, then, becomes a crucial part of the healing process and helps the patient in the long term. 

When we say self-paced, however, this isn’t just limited to when they spend time on the assistant. An article by the Dental Tribune on a study with CARL notes that patients can “stop the video at any time” to report their fear levels. If they’re particularly high, CARL can redirect patients to a less stressful video until they’re able to take the next step.  

A combination of videos and relaxation techniques

But how does CARL work, exactly? For the most part, it uses videos. The Dental Tribune article notes that two of these videos taught techniques patients can use to combat fear. The other seven videos show an actor getting a dental injection step-by-step. These videos serve to expose the patient to the trigger gradually. 

With every point of exposure, the patient should ideally use the techniques they learned in the training videos to lessen anxiety when faced with them. In the study, patients are asked to do this at least once a week for 30 minutes. This might seem like a lax pace to some, but the researchers noted a significant improvement in these participants. Particularly as opposed to the control group, who went over a pamphlet with a dental assistant.

Will Robots Replace Dentists?

In China, two dental implants were installed on a woman by a robot dentist. Although human doctors supervised the procedure, they did not actively intervene. Instead, the robot followed a set of pre-programmed commands to do the dental implant procedure. The implants were fitted within a 0.2-0.3 mm margin of error which matches the standard for this type of process.

Developed by Stomatological Hospital and Beihang University, the technology was created to address the shortage of qualified dentists and frequent surgical errors in mainland China by combining dental expertise and technological benefits.

The robot does the surgery without human intervention, hence, preventing faults brought by human error. Due to the tiny space inside the mouth and areas that are difficult to see, oral surgery is usually complicated to administer.

Through the years, robots have increased their visibility in Dentistry by assisting dentists with various dental procedures, including root canal procedure and orthodontic treatments. Robots have also aided students in their dental training.

In March 2017, the first robotic system for dental implant procedures called Yomi, developed by Neocis, Inc., was cleared by the Food and Drug Administration of the United States. Yomi assists in the pre-operative and intra-operative stages of dental implantation surgery. It uses haptic robotic technology, controlling the drill in position, orientation, and depth, for physical guidance.

Unlike China’s technology, Yomi leaves the control to the surgeon and provides him or her the flexibility to change the plan.

“Robotic dentistry” looks promising especially with the advancements in technology in recent years. Artificial intelligence is already changing the platform of Dentistry with Invisalign and Yomi.

But, for now, Dentistry will have to depend on humans for its dental treatments and services.

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